3 Things You Can Do To Save These Endangered Animals Namibia An Ideal, User Friendly Self-Drive Destination with Unexpected Variety

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Namibia An Ideal, User Friendly Self-Drive Destination with Unexpected Variety

As the newest recruiter in the Aardvark sales team, I was over the moon to be told by John that my first trip out of the office would be to Namibia. Everyone has a mental wish list of places they would like to go and Namibia had been at the top of mine for a while now. “Was I thirsty?” John asked. I bet I was!

The mission: to explore this fascinating country behind the wheel of a 4×4. “Still thirsty?” he asked. “Oh yes.”

“Only?” I asked. “No,” said John—”With Richard.”

Since I’m not the best driver in the world and I’m about to embark on a 12-day road trip with one of my bosses – who is known to be a terrible backseat driver – I wondered if I’d get home yet employed.

I had never driven in Africa before so I didn’t know what to expect, but I quickly learned that driving in Namibia is not difficult; the roads are all clearly marked on the map, and distances and place names are prominently marked. There is a good network of roads, some tarred and the rest generally well maintained with gravel surfaces. While we had a four-wheel drive vehicle, and enjoyed the roughness of the tire and the ground clearance, it’s perfectly possible to make the trip we did with a regular two-wheel drive vehicle. One thing you had to watch for was the wildlife: I was taught to avoid lion and elephant in Etosha, but our closest call was a herd of kudu that suddenly jumped out of the bush far from any protected reserve.

Our route included some of the country’s highlights, namely Etosha National Park, Kaokoland, Damaraland, the Skeleton Coast and the mighty dunes at Sossusvlei. I had an idea of ​​what the Sossusvlei dunes would be like; I’ve seen classic pictures in books and on TV and was so excited to go there myself, but nothing can prepare you for seeing them in the flesh. We climbed the broad ochre-colored dunes early in the morning as the first rays of daylight hit their gracefully curved crests. We walked from Sossusvlei to Dead Vlei, which is an old pan with only the blackened skeletons of dead trees. The contrast of the orange sand, the cloudless blue sky and the white of the Dead Valley was breathtaking.

It wasn’t just the dunes that were the highlight of my trip; the regions of Kaokoland and Damaraland in the northern part of the country were also fascinating; and have been described as some of the last wilderness areas in the world. I was speechless by the moonscape of red lava and yellow sandstone to the north. We also had the fascinating and humbling opportunity to visit a Himba village here. These nomadic people still live with their livestock in barricaded compounds. In some parts of Africa, the pastoral lifestyle is recreated for tourists, but here it’s real, a daily routine that involves covering their bodies with a rust-colored ‘butter’ of animal fat, blood and milk.

Kaokoland and Damaraland are also famous for being home to the desert-adapted elephant and the endangered black rhinoceros. While at Palmwag Rhino Camp I had the opportunity to track black rhino on foot thanks to Save The Rhino Trust. We left the camp at dawn in vehicles, and then when we were told that the trackers (who had set out earlier than us) had found a single black bull rhinoceros, we continued in stealthy silence on foot. Walking carefully, to be as calm as possible, built the excitement and raised the adrenaline. And then from behind a thicket, the rhinoceros appeared. It was an amazing experience to see one of these endangered animals in such close proximity without causing any stress and to be educated in the work that Save The Rhino Trust is doing to protect these spectacular creatures.

The animals and birds we saw along the way were amazing, especially the Cape fur seals that live in vast colonies along the wild and inhospitable Skeleton Coast. We huddled behind the rocks for about 30 minutes while these amazing creatures interacted with each other; huge bulls putting on displays of bravery, playful cubs frolicking in the waves, and all the while they didn’t know we were right in their midst. The whole notion of self-driving as a vacation option was new to me, but I’m now a convert. Advantages include greater flexibility – you can start when you want, stop when you want (especially good for bird shooting and photography we found), take detours and travel under your own steam. It’s a particularly satisfying way to see this stunning country, with its wide open spaces, spectacular landscapes, contrasting landscapes, cloudless blue skies and diverse wildlife.

If self-driving isn’t for you, another way to explore this spectacular circuit is by light aircraft. Before traveling on my own, I spent four days flying along the Skeleton Coast with the Schoeman family. These trips explore this desert region of Namibia in small (five-seater) light single-propeller aircraft. It’s a great way to see the country in a short space of time. A great alternative to a self-drive or flying safari is a vehicle-based guided tour. You get the most of Namibia’s good infrastructure but get the chance to enjoy it together with a great guide and without having to think about travel times and directions etc.


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